If the Laval Rocket could remove Blue Cross Arena from their itinerary for an entire season, they certainly wouldn’t complain.
Brett Murray scored two goals and two assists to lead the Rochester Americans to an easy 7-4 victory over the Rockets on Saturday night.
Some teams sometimes struggle to get out of a nasty overseas drought, and the Rocket (18-16-6) is no exception. The Montreal Canadiens farm club suffered a sixth consecutive loss in Rochester and has not won at Blue Cross Arena since January 18, 2023.
It is also the way this defeat was orchestrated that is not enough to please coach Jean-François Houle. His men committed many turnovers and offered several goals to the Americans (20-14-4), who scored four goals in the first half.
“There were too many turnovers in the first half and it quickly cost the game. Then we were on our heels and we couldn’t come back,” Houle observed.
It wasn’t just their skaters who committed turnovers, their goaltender also started.
Kasimir Kaskisuo, unbeaten in four starts with the Rockets, obviously had a bad situation in the system. The home team’s fourth goal, which actually sent them out of the game, was the perfect example. The Finn played slowly behind his goal and his loss allowed Murray to score.
“After four goals on 10 shots, it was important to try to change the momentum. That’s why we took him out of the network,” Houle said of Kaskisuo.
In relief, Strauss Mann did everything he could to keep his team in the game and proved to be one of the few positives for Laval during this game. The same story for Emil Heineman, who scored two goals.
Filip Cederqvist, a former American, scored his first goal in a Rocket uniform and Jan Mysak added a goal in a losing cause. Brandon Gignac contributed two goals as his team set a career-high 37 points this season.
” Is Cold, but personal statistics always come second. I try to give 100% for the team in every game,” said Gignac.
Other American players had fun during the clash. Viktor Neuchev had a goal and two assists, while Nikita Novikov and Linus Weissbach had a goal and an assist.
Michael Mersch and Justin Richards also scored for the Rochester team, which moved ahead of the Rocket into third place in the American League North Division. Tyson Jost finished the game with three assists.
Eric Comrie probably would have liked to see Heineman’s first goal again, but he added the win to his record with 31 saves.
The Rocket return to action Wednesday night when they host the Utica Comets in their fifth game of January.
A performance to forget
For the second consecutive game, the Lavalenses were surprised in a counterattack and quickly allowed the first goal.
Forward Mitchell Stephens was on point, but stepped up to open the door for Mason Jobst. The latter passed the puck to Mersch, who fired a powerful shot past Kaskisuo.
The Rocket responded just 71 seconds later. Justin Barron intercepted a neutral zone pass from Riley Stillman and Heineman recovered the puck to enter enemy territory. His wrist shot eluded Comrie to tie the game.
The rest of the period was the business of the Americans, who made Kaskisuo and his teammates look bad.
Novikov once again gave his team the lead thanks to the first goal of his American League career, after a great effort from Jost. Then, less than three minutes later, Novikov’s shot hit Richards’ skate as he passed through the slot.
Kaskisuo’s dangerous exit came at 3:16 p.m. and that was the end of his night’s work.
The Laval team got off to a much better start in the second half and reduced the lead to 4-2 thanks to Heineman. The Swede quickly equalized to deceive the blocker’s vigilance of Comrie.
The Rocket continued to press, but another turnover opened the door for the Americans. Philippe Maillet had his pass intercepted and Jost passed the puck to Murray, who left it to Neuchev. His throw was blocked by Mann, but the Russian was able to jump on his return to move the ropes.
In his first game against his former team, Cederqvist gave Jean-François Houle’s team hope with just 1:22 left in the second half. He jumped on the returning Tobie Bisson to find the back of the net.
The Americans put the game out of reach with two goals in the third period. William Trudeau and Olivier Galipeau were initially defeated by Weissbach. Then, Trudeau and Barron were defenseless against Murray’s precise shot.
Mysak scored the last goal for the shorthanded Rocket.